Island of Ustica: what to do and see between beaches, sea and nature

byVerónica Crocitti

All you need to know about what to do, what to see, what to eat and where to sleep in Ustica, a minor island in Sicily.

Set in the heart of the Tyrrhenian Sea, about 67 kilometers from the northern coasts of Sicily, the island of Ustica is a happy land that is part of the province of Palermo. Famous for its crystal clear seas which have become favorite destinations for diving enthusiasts, the island of Ustica extends for about 8 square kilometers and has a maximum altitude of 49 metres.

I had the pleasure of discovering Ustica during my itinerary#A HugOfSicilyin which, for this stage, I collaborated with Visit Ustica… and I was literally struck by it. The holiday atmosphere that hovers among the alleys and lanes combined with an air of extreme relaxation, makes this land above sea level a true paradise for those looking for a quiet place to spend their summer holidays.

Read alsoAnd:5 smaller islands to see in Sicily


The island of Ustica stands out in the body of water in front of Palermo and is about 67 kilometers from the port of the Sicilian capital. The fastest way to reach Ustica is the hydrofoil of Liberty Lines which makes daily connections. The duration of the navigation is 1 hour and 30 minutes and the standard cost of the ticket is 26.01 euros.


Although Ustica is not very big, it takes at least 5/7 days to be able to see (and experience) all its wonders. Once on the island, the advice is to rent a moped and find accommodation not far from the town centre. Personally, to do this I relied on "Ustica Tours”, impeccable in every detail of the organization.

WHERE TO SLEEP IN USTICA: Find all the accommodation offers

And now I leave you the list of the best things to do and see in Ustica, at least in my opinion.

Tour in the town center

The first place from which to start exploring the island of Ustica is the town that extends behind the small port. It is exactly here, around the Parish Church of San Fernando Re and the very central Via Roma, that there are typical cafes and restaurants where you can taste the island's dishes on wonderful terraces overlooking the sea.

Snorkeling in Cala Sidoti

Located in the western part of the island, not far from Punta dello Spalmatore, Cala Sidoti is one of the most famous beaches in Ustica. The waters in front of the cove are a protected marine area and represent a true paradise for snorkelers, and more. In the center of the village you will find numerous agencies where you can book a guided snorkelling experience but, if I had to recommend one, I would sayCiprea Ustica Excursions without any hesitation.

Boat tour of the island

You can't really say you've seen Ustica if you don't observe it from the perspective of the sea. Many of the most beautiful caves and coves on the island are inaccessible by land and therefore the only way to reach them is exactly to book a boat tour. I trusted "Ustica in Gommone" and I had a great time.

WHERE TO SLEEP IN USTICA: Find all the accommodation offers

The tour of the island lasts about two/three hours, with several stops for swimming. During the excursion you can see wonders such as the Blue Grotto, the Windmill, Punta di Faro Gavazzi, Scogli Piatti, Punticedda and the Faro Homo Morto.

Tasting from Hibiscus

Ustica is not an island of vineyards and yet, among those lands defined as "tough", the Hibiscus farm produces a wine that truly deserves to be tasted. Their excellence, in addition to three labels of white, red and rosé wines, is the Zibibbo passito, the Zahib.

READ ALSO:The best beaches in Sicily

Inside the Hibiscus company there is also the Museo della Civiltà Contadina, set up in collaboration with the Centro Studi e Documentazione Isola di Ustica.

Maria Cristina's specialties

Maria Cristina's specialties are an institution on the island of Ustica, a real concentrate of goodness and tradition. Keeping faith with the ancient Ustica recipes, Maria Cristina prepares preserves that are excellent for the palate. Among the most popular are those with swordfish roe.

Sunset from the Rocca della Falconiera

Among the best things to see in Ustica, the sunset from the Rocca della Falconiera deserves a place of honour. The ancient fortress is located about 15 minutes on foot from the town center and can be reached via a short and picturesque nature trail. From the Falconiera hill it is possible to see the entire village as well as the Homo Morto lighthouse.

WHERE TO SLEEP IN USTICA: Find all the accommodation offers

I personally chose this place to make a toast to the wonders of Sicily with theVespers beer, a real riot of Sicilianity.

Astronomical excursion with Ciprea Ustica Excursions

The sky of Ustica is so clear that, at night, it is possible to observe the constellations as if they were just a few meters from your eyes. The astronomical excursion with Ciprea Ustica Excursions was, for me, one of the most suggestive on the island.

Trekking Southern Path

Trekking lovers can only add this route to their very personal list of the best things to do in Ustica, without a doubt. The itinerary of the Southern path begins at the Santa Maria Tower and passes through some beautiful areas such as Piano dei Cardoni, Punta dell'Arco, Punta San Paolo, Cala Galera, Punta Sireta and Punta dell'Arpa, until it reaches the Natural Pool Scuffle and, finally, at Punta Gavazzi.

READ ALSO:Trekking in Sicily, the Pools of Venus

The necropolis of Ustica

Not everyone knows that an extremely ancient necropolis called “Culannella” is hidden on the island of Ustica. The fulcrum is located in the Monte Guardia dei Turchi ridge although it is also possible to observe some tombs in the Rocca della Falconiera area, not far from the town centre. In particular, it is just a stone's throw from the fortress that the famous Hypogean Tomb is hidden.


The rigorously fresh fish-based dishes represent the excellence of the island of Ustica. Among these, spaghetti with redfish, fish balls and pasta with redfish deserve a place of honourswordfish. Tra le pietanze da non perdere, però, spiccano anche quelle a base di lenticchie, vera sublimità dell’isola nonché presidio slow food della Sicilia.

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